When Gallup announced that, for the first time in history, less than half of Americans belong to a religious organization (March, 2020), you may have felt a little affirmed. Our culture has changed. It’s not just you—disciple making is officially an uphill battle!
We Need a New Normal
With stats like that it is clear that the evangelism and discipleship strategies of the past—or even today—are not working.
Normally, I see leaders focus their ministry on disciple making or coaching. Disciple making alone can become linear and the outward focus, while essential to ministry, can neglect personal callings and growth. Coaching alone can result in an inward ministry focus that neglects the Great Commission. Together, however, they provide a balanced ministry. Fusing disciple making and coaching is a recipe for multiplication, effectively growing the Church and the people that make up the Church. For this reason, Christian Coaching Tools is committed to creating disciple making coaching cultures.
Disciple Making Coaching Fusion
I (Gary) recently led a two-pronged training process combining Disciple Making Movements (DMM) with coaching in the Philippines, India, Turkey, Hong Kong, Spain, and the US,. Each event lasted 5 days with the morning dedicated to DMM and afternoons focused on coach training. Participants were forced to live in the tension of learning the technical side of DMM utilizing Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) in combination with the relational side of coaching.
Why this approach?
In talking to other organizations that have implemented DMM training, each and every group has said they should have taught coaching principles in coordination with DMM.
Coaching skills are critical to successful multiplication of disciples. Why? Simply put, great coaches help people feel seen and heard. Coaching meets individuals where they are at, considers their circumstances and helps them discern the next best step for them, and encourages them as they take those steps. It is a powerful process for empowerment to living into God-given purpose.
Directive Coaching for Disciple Making
Typically, I present coaching as a non-directive process; however, in this training approach the “content” is assumed to be the Bible in the context of a DBS. Further, when a person is ready to reproduce a DBS into the second and third generation, the focus of the coaching relationship shifts to leader development. Through this process, churches are planted with coaching embedded in the DNA.
3 Keys to Fusing Disciple Making and Coaching
Here are three lessons I’ve learned while working to create disciple making – coaching cultures:
Utilize practitioners from each discipline to maximize the strengths of both systems. Allow opportunities for each discipline to demonstrate their strengths and weaknesses. Build on the similarities.
Explain how the two disciplines are distinct, then show how they complement one another. Build-in a coach approach from the beginning and reproduction will happen organically. Growth by addition will get you started but growth through reproduction grows exponentially.
3. Structural Tension:
Allow participants to live in the tension of making disciples AND coaching leaders to reproduce. The goal is to build appreciation for both worlds and highlight how they offer a more complete and effective ministry when they work in cooperation. Lean into the tension and go slow at first so you can grow faster, later.